The Surprising Health Benefits Of Butter

The opinion on butter has changed drastically over the decades. In the 1980s and 1990s, as Harvard Public Health describes, the notion was essentially that all fat was bad. In 2014, the Wall Street Journal declared that butter was making a comeback, as consumers purchased more of it than margarine and began to understand that some fats are better than others. "In the '60s and '70s, before trans fats were really thought to be bad, we looked at margarine and said it was healthier because it didn't have as much saturated fat," stated food scientist Sean O'Keefe. "The opposite is the case today." Then, in 2018, according to The Guardian, some scientists began promoting high-fat diets, a view that public health officials warned was dangerous, even lethal.

At the end of the day, though — like sugar, alcohol, and other products deemed "bad" for our health — fats like butter can be enjoyed in moderation and may even add to our health, thanks to a few key benefits.

What health benefits are hiding in your butter?

According to Harvard Health, 1 tablespoon of butter contains 355 IU (international units) of vitamin A, or about 10% to 15% of your daily recommended amount. Vitamin A, says the National Institutes of Health, is important for your vision, immune system, reproduction systems, heart, lungs, and kidneys.

Butter made from grass-fed cows also contains a high amount of beta-carotene and omega-3s, according to an article from Business Insider on what exactly gives some butters that yellow hue. Mount Sinai explains that beta-carotene converts to vitamin A in the body, meaning you reap more benefits, such as improved eye health, a strong immune system, and healthy skin. Meanwhile, omega-3 fatty acids, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, are part of a heart-healthy diet and ongoing research suggests omega-3s may be helpful in preventing brain and eye-related diseases.

So, given that butter offers a few surprising health benefits, how can you ensure you're eating it in moderation? How much butter is too much butter? Since butter is mostly saturated fat, it's a good idea to take your total saturated fat intake into consideration when answering that question. The Cleveland Clinic advises adults should limit saturated fat intake to 10% of their total daily calories. So, if you're eating 2,000 calories a day, you should eat 22 grams of saturated fat or less per day, or in butter terms, no more than 3 tablespoons per day, per Healthline.